Romney Presents Best Candidate for Latinos: Obama

Romney's Etch-a-Sketch machine. (Illustration by DonkeyHotey)

There were no surprises from Mitt Romney during his speech at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ (NALEO) annual conference in Florida last Thursday.

Romney hammered the president on the economy and high unemployment rate among Latinos. In character, he skirted the question on everybody’s mind: whether or not he would repeal President Obama’s immigration reprieve for undocumented youth if elected.

“I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure,” Romney offered, fantasizing that he would somehow get both parties to work together at passing immigration reform.  He did hint at a possible solution for undocumented youth. The GOP candidate promised that as President, he “will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service.”

Senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie gave a more straightforward and honest answer about Obama’s immigration order during CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

“Every executive action that President Obama has taken will be subject to review,” Gillespie said. “In the case of this case, it will be subject to review as to whether or not it’s legal. So there’s legitimate questions about the legality of it.”

The Bain Capital founder came to Florida knowing full well that he had to do an etch-a-sketch on immigration and make amends with an audience he and other GOP presidential hopefuls had wantonly abused during the Republican primaries with strident anti-immigrant rhetoric. Self-deportation was Mitt Romney’s unpopular answer then.

“I’ve come here today with a simple message: you do have an alternative,” Romney said. “Your vote should be respected and your voice is more important now than ever before.”

No doubt the Latino voice will be more crucial than ever come November. But Romney and the Republican Party have not exactly been respectful. Latinos and other immigrant communities do have an alternative—an alternative to Romney.

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Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

AboutErwin de Leon
Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.